Test Interface, Navigation, & Loading Times



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    Nick NCARB

    Hi Justin,

    Thank you so much for posting this information! We really appreciate the user interface/technical feedback as we continue to look for ways to improve the ARE 5.0 candidate experience.  

    I would like to address a few of your non-interface concerns. First, I want to assure you that the glitch that occurred yesterday has been totally resolved and all candidates impacted by it have been contacted via email by NCARB.  Case studies are designed to display at the end of the exam in all divisions so this is what you should expect on future exams. Your division was delivered around the time that the system error was fixed, causing your case studies to be delivered at the beginning of the exam instead of the end.  Regarding the load time for each item, I recommend you check out this post from earlier this month.

    Again, thank you for your feedback!


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    Justin Pelland

    Nick, thank you for the response. One thing - I was one of the candidates affected by the glitch and posted in the current running board here:

    I also emailed NCARB and Prometric with a description of the issue I experienced. I didn't get an email as you described. Also, I read Jared's official response and I'm confused by one thing. If you failed as a result of the glitch you'll be able to retake the exam but I didn't understand what he meant by if you passed the exam despite the glitch. Are we going to be forced to retake the exam even if we managed to squeak out a pass despite the circumstances? Could you elaborate?

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    Some further thoughts on this: 

    I totally agree about the calculator being exceptionally difficult to use. 

    I hadn't really thought about re-organizing the text to display in a more condensed format, but that's a really good idea! I totally agree that would make reading the longer questions far easier. 

    Your idea of having the case study question as a sort of sidebar to the resources is also a really good one. Definitely agree with that. That would make life far easier referencing the question to the materials provided instead of scrolling up and down constantly.  

    As for the rest, I personally didn't mind the other issues you mentioned. I really like the strikethrough and highlight. I think they work well.

    When it comes to navigating within the case study resources themselves, I don't really mind that they reset. I'd kind of prefer that since each one is its own situation, so you start with a fresh slate each time. But I seem to be in the minority on this from reading other similar posts. You probably already came to the same conclusion, but use that search bar often, and make a point of writing down the locations of any info you find within the resources so you can go back to it easily. 

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    Daniel Wachtveitl

    I wanted to leave a comment regarding the navigation of the case study documents (floor plans, codes, etc.) I believe they should be modified for the future tests to correct the "zoom feature". By default, they are set to "fit to page". However, when attempting to zoom out, the first step zooms the document in all the way before being able to zoom out. it is rather distracting and irritating to click "zoom out" 4-6 times to make the document readable. The document should be readable at "fit to page" and click "zoom out" 1 time to step back further from "fit to page".....makes sense to me (it shouldn't zoom in first)

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    Justin Pelland

    After taking a few more exams, I have some additional feedback:

    - The calculator problem seems to have been resolved so now the number pad is activated. This makes it significantly easier to perform complex calculations. Only two minor suggestions: First, the only way to complete a calculation is to actually hit the "=" key over by backspace. Not a huge deal, but if the enter key could be activated as well, that would make it much better. Second, if there's any way to get comma separators on the calculator's display, it'll make a world of difference. Some of the questions deal with numbers in the millions and I found myself making errors transcribing them onto my scratch paper.

    - the search function on the reference material is a great feature but I learned of a big limitation on my last exam. It won't search for groupings of words. For a made up example, If I was trying to search a 36 page document for "Article 5", the search function turns back every instance of the word "Article" and every instance of the number "5" separately. This makes searching a document using more than one word impossible, and with only one word, its nearly impossible to accurately search the documents. Especially if you're looking for terms like "corner lot" or "street frontage" which are commonly used together.

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    Ryan NCARB

    Hey Justin,

    We are still working with our testing vendors to get the number pad fully operational in test centers.  It sounds like you saw an instance of it still in testing.  NCARB will make a full announcement on this when it is ready to go - sometime in the next month.

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    Timothy Hill

    That sounds like a good idea on searching for combinations of words.  I wonder if it will search if you use quotes around your search like this "Article 5".


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    Jennifer Price

    I just took my first ARE 5 test this morning (PDD!) and completely agree with all the comments everyone has posted on, especially regarding the location of the questions. Having everything up in the left corner was uncomfortable. Having to read long lines of questions that tracked across your screen instead of condensed and centered was weird. Additionally, when you went to use the highlighter/strikeout tools, the drop down tabs ended up covering up part of your question and it never highlighted what I wanted. It became too cumbersome and time-consuming to deal with and I stopped using those tools. In my past ARE 4 exams these functions worked properly. 

    The case studies were difficult to navigate. Having to jump back and forth between tabs that were slow to load made everything a bit more frustrating especially since the clock was quickly running out. Zooming in was annoying, everytime I hit the + symbol it went from "fit width" to 300%, it's a small issue but adds time. The case study questions were located at the bottom of the screen. Not being able to see your question and reference materials/plans/sections/etc was difficult.

    Hopefully, these comments come in helpful! 

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    Louis Mari

    Completely agree with comments about reference materials "loading" slowly. It's totally unacceptable, on an exam where time is critical, to have to constantly wait for pages to load. Especially since the search feature for those documents is also so poor. It ruins your concentration. Even pages that you have previously viewed, if you scroll away and then back to them, require painful "loading" again. This should be a non issue.  Maybe Prometric could keep track of "loading" time and tack it on to the end of the exam. But it's still terribly frustrating to use.

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    Karen Desing

    Has the issue with the text size, loading issues, etc. been resolved? I took the PPD & PDD in July and Dec of 2018 and failed both. The case studies were terrible to navigate and the reloading issues were as described above. The 4.0 vignettes were easier to do then the 5.0 case studies because you didn't have to remember what was on each sheet because you couldn't see the entire image. I am retaking again this month and the online example exam is the same as my testing experience, it is terrible. We don't work like this, why do we test like this?

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